By Natalie Schmitt, Food Columnist

An early rhubarb season


I know the calendar says it is only the beginning of March, but did anyone tell Mother Nature? Golfers are taking swings and walking the greens. Novice gardeners are ready to start digging and planting. I’m getting excited to be able to plant potatoes on Good Friday in March. Generally, the garden is still buried under mountains of snow which won’t melt until May.

All this hopeful spring weather has me rushing to use up my frozen rhubarb in anticipation of eating fresh in a few weeks. I’ve pulled together a couple of recipes from my sister Nancy’s recipe files for spring treats and Easter brunch.

The quiche recipe is from a mutual friend who farms and lives in New Zealand. Jill and her husband, Ian, were vacationing in the U.S. over 25 years ago. They stopped in at the Benton County Fair because they were in the area. It didn’t take long for the strangers from down under to become quick friends with many of us dairy farmers. Jill and Ian would make several trips back to central Minnesota over the years to convert neighborhood barns into milking parlor systems. Many of these barns are still in operation today.

Rhubarb cherry crunch
by Nancy Dowell

1 cup quick oats

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cold butter

Dash of salt

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 can cherry pie filling

Mix oats, sugar, flour and salt together. Cut in cold butter till crumbly. Press 2/3 of mixture into bottom of a greased 9-by-13 pan. Cover mixture with chopped rhubarb. In a saucepan, combine corn starch and sugar. Whisk in water. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil until thickened. Add almond extract and cherry pie filling. Spoon over the top of the rhubarb. Sprinkle remaining crumble on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Rhubarb banana crisp

2 medium bananas, sliced, or can be mashed if preferred

2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb, thaw if frozen

4 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Generous dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, about 6 squares

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup skim milk

In a medium bowl, combine bananas, rhubarb, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon into well-greased 9-inch pie pan or shallow baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs and baking powder. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Combine egg and milk. Stir this into the flour mixture. Spoon batter evenly over the fruit mixture. The batter is hard to spread, so don’t try. Sprinkle the top of the crisp with the remaining sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rhubarb crumble

3 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 cup cubed, peeled apples

1/2 to 1 cup sliced strawberries

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup quick cooking oats

Vanilla ice cream

Combine rhubarb, apples and strawberries; spoon into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold with a scoop of ice cream.

Easy cheesy baked hash browns
by Nancy Dowell

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

48 ounces frozen hash brown potato cubes

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup potato chips, crushed

In a large bowl, combine soups, sour cream, butter, milk, half of shredded cheese, onion powder, pepper and salt. Mix well. Add potato cubes, mixing well. Pour into greased 11-by-13 dish. Sprinkle with potato chips and rest of shredded cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Impossible quiche
by Jill Singer

3 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

1 chopped onion

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup self-rising flour

2 strips cooked bacon

1 1/2 cups milk

Pepper and salt

2 cups toppings, such as asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, tomato slices, etc.

Place all ingredients (except bacon) in a quart jar with tight lid. Shake 1 minute. Pour into pie dish, add bacon and 2 cups toppings. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark Schmitt started an adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.


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